Written by Matthew Cannata at 11:30 AM EST | Twitter: @PhinManiacs
When the NFL began playing Thursday night games several years ago, there was immediate concern about the quality of play due to the fact that players were barely recovered from the previous game they played on Sunday just a few days prior.
Since then, the NFL has expanded into every team getting a Thursday night game each season and the complaints have only grown louder. For the Miami Dolphins,
Lamar Miller, who might not see the field on Thursday due to a shoulder injury, said that it’s a short turnaround but they have to prepare better and be ready to do well. Samson Satele said that the players need to take care of their body but when the lights come on, all of that is forgotten.
“It’s very quick, like you said. It’s another game and it’s under the lights. Everybody should be amped up for it no matter how sore you are, how injured you are, how hurt you are. Soon as you see those lights and are between those white lines, something’s got to switch.”
Ryan Tannehill, who is also battling a few injuries from the Lions game, said that it’s tough to get your body recovered. Tannehill has shown up on the injury report as a limited participant in practice but he said despite some soreness, he’ll be good to go on Thursday.
“Anytime you play a Thursday night game, physically, it’s tough to get your body recovered and then ready to go again. Not to mention coming off a physical game going into another physical game, this could be a real challenge for us. The coaches took care of us this week in practice and let our bodies recover. Had a lot of great mental work, just preparing and knowing exactly what to do come Thursday.”
That’s why Joe Philbin has changed the routine a bit this week in practices and in meetings. On Tuesday, they ended practice 45 minutes earlier than what they had scheduled. In addition, he created a specific plan players to get their bodies ready for Thursday night. Philbin also noted that besides the game being taxing physically, it can also create drain mentally.
“I think the big thing is the mental preparation in regard to the players getting ready for the game. When you think about it, typically if we were playing Buffalo on seven days, during practice, our defensive backs and linebackers would have plenty of opportunities to see Buffalo’s top passes at full-speed put on by some other guys on our offensive unit providing a look, so to speak. Conversely, our running backs, our quarterbacks and our O-linemen (offensive linemen) would have a chance to practice all of Buffalo’s blitzes full-speed. You just don’t have the time for that, and physically you aren’t able to do that when you have to think about the demands of playing a game on Sunday and then playing a game on Thursday night. That really puts the focus on the players on the mental side of things and studying the tape, spending a little more time in the classroom as opposed to live, full-speed practice reps.”
With all that said, there are some benefits to a short week, especially if a team is coming off a loss on Sunday. For the Dolphins, that’s exactly what’s going on and Philbin said it has helped them quickly forget about the tough loss on Sunday.
“Yeah, I told the team in Detroit, we were on the road and I said, ‘Look, when we walk out of the locker room it has to be on to Buffalo.’ I got on the plane and started watching Buffalo film. It’s different, but you know in the NFL you are always going to have one Thursday night game, and you aren’t sure when it’s going to be or where it’s going to be. You just kind of have to turn it over and get ready to go onto the next one, for sure.”
Let’s hope the Dolphins can pull out a win and enjoy their mini-bye weekend before heading to Denver to take on the Broncos on November 23.
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